THE MERCIAN REGIMENT Quarterly Newsletter Q1 2024


Lt Col Grant Brown

I write this forward as the 1 MERCIAN BG is busy deploying on Ex IMMEDIATE RESPONSE in Poland which, as part of Exercise STEADFAST DEFENDER EUROPE, is the largest deployment of the British Army in a generation. A (Grenadier) Company have also been preparing to deploy on Ex COMBINED RESOLVE as part of the KRH BG to Germany to form part of a US Army Brigade.

We have all been incredibly busy readying our fleet and ourselves to demonstrate UK capability in the face of continued Russian aggression. We must be under no illusions – Russia will be watching us as we prepare, as we deploy, and as we are operating in Europe. That’s a good thing, it is the whole point of this deployment. But it will mean a rigorous approach to things like the use of mobile phones whilst out in theatre. We must expect Russian agents to be conducting an electronic collect on us while there, so the measures we will have in place are designed to protect all of us.

As always, I thoroughly appreciate the efforts of our soldiers, and I really do respect the support and patience from all of our loved ones – without you we would not be able to do what we are doing.


C (Kohima) Company spent two weeks on Salisbury Plain training the next generation of Warrior Commanders. The exercise was planned and conducted by the Combined Arms Manoeuvre Centre and is designed to teach newly qualified Warrior Commanders how to tactically command the Warrior IFV. The course was four weeks long; two weeks in Sennelager, Germany and two weeks on Salisbury Plain.

This was C Company’s first armoured infantry exercise since it’s reanimation in September 2022. The exercise was the culmination of eight weeks of work. For many of the lads it was their first taste of armoured infanteering under ideal conditions of the wettest February in a decade. Despite the rain, wind, and mud it was an invaluable experience for C Company before it starts training for the battalion’s deployment to Estonia.


Exercise Sharpe’s Sword is the Battalion’s annual Junior Officer’s competition, designed to test the mental and physical robustness of the Battalion’s young officers, whilst assessing their abilities and knowledge in a range of military tasks.

This year, the event began with eleven young officers from the Battalion being taken to a secluded barn on Salisbury plain at midnight on 7 Mar 24. They underwent a rigorous kit check by the RSM before setting off on a circa. 40 km individual march back to Bulford. Navigating by map and compass, and sometimes a wing and a prayer, participants made their way through a number of stands, including Communications, Armoured Fighting Vehicle recognition, Military Knowledge, and marksmanship tests. A start time of 0200 combined with a cold, wet and foggy night made the first leg challenging, but as the participants moved through the checkpoints and the sun came up, morale improved markedly. There were even a few smiles on show as they trudged on to the range at Bulford around 1030 after 30 odd Km.

Firing sharpshooter rifles for the first time was a highlight for many, followed swiftly by an uphill stretch to the combat estimate stand. Here the young officers were put through their paces in planning for a company level defensive operation, giving back briefs to a group of Majors.

From here it was all downhill to the finish and a dinner night to celebrate and crown the winner. This year 2Lt Charles Gray was triumphant and was presented his prize by Maj Gen (Retd) Sharpe. A good day out for all, and a strong demonstration of grit, determination, physical and mental prowess of the junior portion of The Officers’ Mess.


After a well-earned Christmas leave and returning from Castlemartin ranges, it was time for the Anti-Tank Platoon to qualify all of their Javelin operators for another year. The Platoon deployed to Weeton Barracks in Blackpool, where the theoretical phase of the cadre was conducted.

Throughout the Platoon conducted physical training in preparation for soldiering with the additional weight that comes with using the Javelin missile system and vital lessons such as Armoured Fighting Vehicle recognition and weapon handling.

After a successful training period in the North of England the Platoon deployed immediately onto Salisbury Plain. Under their detachment commanders the soldiers soon got to grips with what would be expected of them as Anti-Tank soldiers, putting into practice all they had learnt in Blackpool, refining their skills as a Javelin Gunner. The tactical phase culminated after many hours of digging in observation posts before the soldiers occupied positions to conduct an Anti-Armour ambush, for this action they had to put into practice all of the skills they had been taught over the previous 3 weeks and it proved an excellent test of what they had learnt.

A special congratulations goes to Pte Hanrahan who was been awarded the position of top student for the cadre.


The 1 Mercian Recce Platoon recently completed a rigorous 5-week cadre, marking a significant milestone in their operational readiness. Throughout the course, the troops honed their skills in various areas, including navigation, armoured training, and reconnaissance tactics.

A highlight of their training regimen was the completion of 8 solo navigation exercises, demonstrating their ability to navigate and operate independently in diverse terrain and conditions. This not only enhances their individual capabilities but also reinforces the Platoon's overall effectiveness in reconnaissance missions.

In addition to this, the troops engaged in armoured training using the Virtual Battlespace Simulator (VBS), allowing them to simulate real-world scenarios and refine their tactics in a safe and controlled environment. This experience with armoured tactics prepares them for the challenges they may encounter in the field.

The culmination of their training saw the cadre deployed to Brecon for an arduous dismounted recce exercise. Operating from Sub Surface Observation Posts, they tested their skills in surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence gathering in the challenging terrain and environment. Having now completed the cadre, the Platoon is ready for its next deployment, leading the 1 MERCIAN Battlegroup from the front.


This last 3 months has seen B Coy invigorated with many of our number returning to the fold after training Ukrainians on Op INTERFLEX and the fresh challenge of taking part in an Armoured Division wide wet gap crossing in Poland this summer laid in front of us.

We have had three LCpls promoted to Cpl. Congratulations to:

  • Kirby
  • Evans
  • Stafford

And congratulations to five Ptes promoted to LCpl:

  • Goldsmith
  • McFadden
  • Rynhart
  • Hennegan
  • Dalakouras

Ptes Comfort and Mann completed the Battle Camp phase of their basic training, on which Pte Mann was awarded Best Shot.

Pte Mann with his Best Shot award at ATR Grantham

We welcomed Captain Tony Blackshaw in as Coy 2IC and said farewell to Cpl Jay Heaton who departs to a demanding civilian job after organising an excellent winter cohesion Go-Carting Event for B Coy.


CSgt Green, AT PL Sgt

On Saturday 3rd June, HQ Coy held an open day for soldier's families to give them an insight on what we do during training events and to show some of the equipment we use. The OC, Maj Johnston, opened the event by thanking the families for their continued support for the soldiers. C/Sgt Green then gave a brief history of the Glorious 1st June and its relevance to the Mercian Regiment of Today.

The soldiers' families were then invited to enjoy the stands that had been set up for them. At the front of the building there was a vehicle display with an SV and a Land Rover as well as an inflatable assault course. Both of which were popular with younger children. Inside the main building we had a weapons display which included a Javelin and a set of Virtus. The indoor range was in use as a BB experience which proved to be very popular. Food and refreshments were provided and the weather was on our side throughout the day.


Soldiers from 4 MERCIAN supported the Armed Forces Covenant signing by Marston’s Brewery Wolverhampton. Businesses and organisations who wish to demonstrate their support for the Armed Forces community sign the covenant. In doing so they make a range of written and publicised promises to set out their support. The Reserve Forces Cadet Association conducted the official signing of the Armed Forces Covenant with the CEO of Marston’s and the Commanding Officer 4 MERCIAN.

As well as the Armed Forces Covenant, a ready steady cook type competition also took place. A team of military chefs went against the Marston’s chefs. There were 3 judges: the CEO of Marston’s, the Commanding Officer 4 MERCIAN, and the Dep Lord Lt Sylvia Parkin and the Dep Lord Mayor of Wolverhampton who presented the prize to the winning team. The Winning team was Marston’s but a very close contest. The standard of food was exceptional.

A big thank you to Marston’s for showing their support to the Armed Forces Community.


Captain Paul Tyrer, Colour Sergeant Chris Williams, Corporal Wendy Roberts and a few of the local Association visited Brooke Court Care Home in Kidderminster for Jack Beavon’s 104th birthday.

Jack Beavon was a member of the 7th Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment and served at Dunkirk. There was a Remembrance Service where Last Post and Reveille was played by Cpl Wendy Robert from the Band of the Mercian Regiment. Jack was presented with a number of gifts from the Battalion along with a CO’s Coin. When told that the coins were awarded for excellence, Jack replied that he’d been spoken to by a CO in the past about his insolence but never excellence! At 104 years young Jack is still as sharp as the tip of a bayonet


Pte Bunn competed in a BJJ competition. Since this competition he has gone on to win a gold medal at the Army BJJ Championship and selected for the Tri- service team.

Pte Jack Bunn, HQ Coy, 4 MERCIAN competed in the Roll Models Brazilian Ju Jitsu (BJJ) Competition held in Stoke-on-Trent. He secured 2 victories in the Gi Middleweight Division, earning an overall 2nd place. In the no Gi competition he won his first match but lost to the eventual winner of the contest. This was only Jack’s second competition for the Gracie Barra Gym in Cannock and sets him up for the Army BJJ Championships later this month where he will compete with the 4 MERCIAN BJJ Team. If you think that you could “Roll with it” maybe you could find your role in 4 MERCIAN.”


The start of the year for The Band of the Mercian Regiment has revolved around new music repertoire and development time laying the foundations for the years musical performances along side some exciting public performances.

The Birmingham International Tattoo is Britain’s biggest indoor tattoo, bringing over 1000 performers together. The Band of the Mercian Regiment, together with The Band of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, formed part of the fifty strong band who took centre arena to perform an intricate marching display to a mixture of traditional military band music and popular favourites to get the packed out arena dancing. With crown counter-marches, bomb bursts, cowboys and Indians and arrowhead formations, it certainly kept the crowd entertained! Working in large ensembles with other musicians on such a large scale in the public eye, and being part of the massed finale definitely gets the adrenaline going!

Military Match Day West Bromwich, The Hawthorns Fan Zone

In March, as part of a series of Military Matchdays, a group from The Band of the Mercian Regiment entertained match goers in the ‘Fanzone’ ahead of the game at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich. There were opportunities to chat to some of the Reservists to find out more about their roles and how they balance civilian jobs with family life. The Band entertained the crowds with a series of popular favourites and the buoyant atmosphere certainly spread into the ground, as the home side celebrated with a 2 - 0 win against visitors Bristol City.

Small groups such as the saxophone quartet add a sense of occasion to many regimental events where a full band would not fit or be practical. This quarter, the saxophone quartet has been out and about entertaining at dinners and events around the area, notable performing at the dinner for Operation Ex Horseshoe Knowledge and the Master of Signals Lt Gen S Nesmith.

Musn Jenner, CEQ success

In personnel news, congratulations to Musician Katie Jenner, who has achieved a high pass in part one (individual performance) of CEQ2 which tests the technical skills required to be a competent British Army Band musician. She is now working on completion of CEQ2 part two “British Army Band Competence Assessment” which develops and evidences the complementary skills, knowledge and experience that form part of the musician's role.

And final news for this quarter – the Band has now been granted permission to recruit once more and is seeking both new musicians and recent ex-Regular musicians interested in joining their ranks.


Derbyshire Freemasons donate to Army Cadets

Cadets and Adult Volunteers, from A & D Companies, came together at the Provincial Grand Lodge of the Derbyshire Freemasons to receive a £500 donation to each Detachment.

Cadets were led inside the historic building once owned by Rolls Royce and the development facility for the Merlin Engine used in World War II aircraft and tanks. Inside the Lodge room, the Freemasons gave a warm welcome and the presentations began under the direction of the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Ian Copestake, who was flanked by Derbyshire High Sheriff Theresa Peltier, Derbyshire ACF Honorary Colonel Leigh Timmis, and senior members of the Provincial Grand Lodge.

Detachments plan to invest the money in expedition, sports and IT equipment, to enable high quality training and better the Cadet Experience.

Altogether, with the presentations to B & C Companies in June 2023, Derbyshire Freemasons has generously donated a total of £16,000 to Derbyshire ACF.

Maj Greg Wakeling, Officer Commanding A Coy: “The funds will help hundreds of Derbyshire cadets to realise their full potential and for that I am extremely grateful.”

Cadet Force Adult Volunteer saved drowning elderly man

Derbyshire ACF Sergeant Major Instructor (SMI) Ian Powell’s prompt action and effective first aid skills, acquired through the Army Cadet Force, ensured an emergency situation was managed effectively.

SMI Powell. Photo: East Midlands RFCA

Whilst SMI Powell was conducting a canoe training course on Cromford canal, the driver of a mobility scooter lost control and careered in to the chilly water nearby. He quickly moved towards the scene and found the man submerged. Once the man was released from his safety belt, SMI Powell moved him to the canal bank and utilised survival clothing and equipment before handing the situation over to medical professionals.

SMI Powell. Photo: East Midlands RFCA

Now a proud recipient of a Royal Humane Society certificate, SMI Powell associates the award with the first aid and leadership skills developed over a long Cadet Force career.

Ex Venturer Derbyshire Rock

Derbyshire ACF Senior Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAV) have completed an Exercise recce to support the plans for 70 cadets and 20 CFAV to visit Gibraltar in 2025.

The leadership team which includes Maj Al-Khamiri, Ex OC; Capt Bulloch, Ex Training Officer; WO2 Phil Hayes MBE, Training Safety Advisor, met with personnel to agree a programme of adventurous training, military engagement and cultural experiences. Follow Derbyshire ACF at for updates on this and more!

Stockport Branch CRA & MVRA The Mercian Regimental Association

February Meeting

The final meeting prior to the March AGM had a slightly lower attendance than usual, with 15 present plus Aidan Lees Zooming in from a sunny, yet wet Saturday morning in Aukland, New Zealand, and a poorly Steve Whaite from Marple, Cheshire. Mike (Buck) Rogers gave an update on his fundraising progress for The Big Battlefield Bike Ride, which included a £100 donation from the Branch. Condolences were proffered to member Brian Hartigan on the passing of his brother Michael, of both and 1st and 7th (V) Battalions of the Cheshire Regiment.

Following a welfare briefing by Derek Sykes, there were updates from the CRA and MVRA liaison representatives: the big-ticket item was the Meannee Reunion to be held in Chester exactly 181 years to the day since the battle, which is the primary celebration of the Cheshire Regiment – ‘Ever Glorious’.

Standards were requested to be on parade for the memorial service for LCpl Jamie Webb (ex 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment and 1st Bn Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), KIA Afghanistan 26/3/2013) on 26th March, at Handforth War Memorial.

There is a new initiative from Stockport County FC who shall (via Mark Ward MC) be running a weekly veterans’ meet-up from 1000-1200hrs every Thursday.

The next shotgun shoot is scheduled for 14th April, and assistance was offered, if required, for anyone applying for the Veterans’ ID card.

17th February 2024

The 181st Anniversary of Meannee saw Branch members in attendance at the CRA AGM at the Castle, Chester where our treasurer, Steve Whaite was granted The Maj Gen Peter Martin Award for services to the Branch. Well done, Steve!

It also saw Branch members in attendance at the Meannee Reunion.

And our Facebook friends from “The 22nd Regiment of Foot” ‘Across the Pond’ also celebrated Stateside

24 members of Stockport branch of the MRA attended the AGM on Fri 01 Mar 24 at the Armoury Stockport, regretfully due to the train strike some members could not attend. Two members attended via the Zoom call facility.

The Chairman thanked the members for their continued support and help, as we looked back on a once in a lifetime year, marked by the Coronation of His Majesty The King, and a successful Armed Forces Day in Stockport, which had huge support from the People of Stockport

The Meeting looked forward to another busy year ahead with many events planned.

Following the AGM we were served with pie, peas and gravy supplied by the secretary Pete Marsh, we then retired to the bar for a few drinks.

26th March 2024

On 26 March 2024 a plaque was unveiled next to Handforth War Memorial for Lance Corporal Jamie Webb. The event was well supported by many members of Stockport branch CRA & MVRA The Mercian Regimental Association. The standard was carried by Mr Derek Sykes from the branch.

Lance Corporal Webb died on 26 March 2013 as a result of wounds sustained during an insurgent attack on his patrol base in the Nad ‘Ali district of Helmand province on 25 March 2013.



On Saturday 13 April. we were honoured to welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury to The Crich War Memorial. This was part of his tour of Derbyshire and thankfully, although very blustery, the weather stayed dry for the picnic and prayers where many spent time together and prayed for all those in The Church of England in Derbyshire.

The Archbishop of Canterbury led a clypping prayer together, where everyone joined hands to surround the Tower, to remembered those no longer with us, those in pain or struggling and prayers were said for our schools, churches and communities. The children wrote prayers and attached them to the railings to the tower which were then taken to Derby Cathedral


On 6 April, members of The Mercian Regiment joined members of the WFRA to commemorate the Badajoz Battle Honour, at Nottingham Castle. The Lord Mayor of Nottingham also joined us and gave an address to those gathered , after the Red Jacket was raised.

Special thanks to Lt Dulson (1M) for reading the citation and Act of Remembrance, CSM Walton (4M) for taking the parade and Cpl Thornton & Pte Bramley for bringing the Regimental Mascot.

Following the commemorations, all were invited to visit the gallery where the Curator talked to us about some of the exhibits

Chesterfield Branch

On Easter Sunday, the Chesterfield Branch WFRA presented Mr Roy Crump with a plaque and certificate to say thank you for all his many years volunteering at Crich. And in particular his care of the flower barrels and floral borders. We thank Roy for all of his help over the years and wish him well for enjoying his retirement


Eagle Dinning Club

On Friday 08 Mar 24 the Mercian Volunteers Eagle Officer’s dining club held their annual dinner at the Dovecliff Hall Hotel Burton upon Trent. It was attended by 20 ex officers of both the 1st and 2nd Battalions the Mercian Volunteers. Our thanks to Lawrence Chell and Tim Rickets for its excellent organisation and we look forward to next years dinner.


The MVRA AGM was held on Sun 17 Mar 23 at Rock Steady Eddies, Walsall and attended by 30 members of the association, with all branches being represented. Following the meeting we were treated to an excellent curry and the hospitality of the Walsall branch.

MVRA AGM at Rock Steady Eddies Walsall

MVRA Annual Service

On Sat 22 Jun 24 the MVRA will holding their annual service of Commemoration and picnic at the National Memorial Arboretum. This is the main event for the association in 2024 with the Mercian Regiment Association and all Antecedent associations also being invited to attend. Following the service the association will enjoy a picnic in the area of the Mercian Grove.

The Mercian Volunteers Grove dates back to 2004, with a plaque for 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment being added in 2007.

Mercian Memorial with 4 MERCIAN plaque at the NMA


Overview and History

Pension members who have served in the Armed Forces since 1975, and did not qualify for an immediate pension may be entitled to a Deferred Pension.

Prior to 6 April 1975, there was no provision for a preservation of pension benefits and Service personnel who left the Armed Forces had to have completed 16 years service from age 21 (Officers) or 22 years from age 18 (Other Ranks) to be eligible for a pension. Those who left before that date, without completing the above criteria, had no pension entitlement unless they were medically retired.

The Pension rules were changed so as to allow for individuals who left before the immediate pension point to accrue benefits under the scheme but not to be paid until they had reached pension benefit age:

  • From 06 April 1975, deferred pensions could be claimed for payment at age 60 for all those discharged over the age of 26 with a minimum of five years reckonable service. Reckonable service starts from age 18 for other ranks and age 21 for officers;
  • In 1978, the age criterion was removed;
  • From 06 April 1983 Service personnel no longer needed 5 years reckonable service, but 5 years contracted out service (contracted out service is service from age 16 earned after 6/4/78
  • On 06 April 1988, the qualifying period was reduced from five years to two years
  • On 6 April 2006, the deferred pension age changed to age 65


AFPS 75 deferred pension member whose service ended before 6 April 2006, should claim their pensions, from Veterans UK, at age 60.

AFPS 75 deferred pension members whose service ended on or after 6 April 2006, but who had at least two years service before 6 April 2006, should claim the proportion of their pension which relates to their pre 6 April 2006, service at age 60 with the remainder becoming payable at age 65.


AFPS 05 was introduced in 2005 and for those joining or rejoining the Regular Armed Forces from 6 April 2005. Serving members of AFPS 75 were given the opportunity to transfer to AFPS 05 by 6 April 2006. AFPS 05 deferred pension members should claim their pensions from Veterans UK at age 65.


RFPS 05 is a scheme applicable for those starting or renewing a Full Time Reserve Service commitment /contract from 6 April 2005 and Serving members of FTRSPS 97 were given the opportunity to transfer to RFPS 05 by 6 April 2006.

AFPS 05 and RFPS05 deferred pension members should claim their pensions from Veterans UK at age 65.

Claiming an Early Payment of a Pension in the Event of Permanent ill Health

A deferred member of any of the pension schemes mentioned above, is entitled to apply to claim for an immediate payment of a deferred pension and lump sum before reaching age 65 and

  • In the opinion of Veterans UK (who has received evidence from a medical practitioner or other specialists) that the deferred member has suffered a permanent break down in health which has left them unable to work full-time, in any capacity, and this condition will continue until deferred pension age (age 65).
  • He is not an active member of another occupational pension scheme
  • Early payment of the pension may be subject to review and stopped if it is considered that the criterion for payment was no longer met.

Early Payment of Deferred Pensions with Actuarial Reduction

A deferred member can claimed for an immediate payment of a deferred pension but with an actuarial adjustment to take account of the longer period for which the pension will be in payment. The ages from which this form of early payment may be claimed are:

  • AFPS 75 member - the proportion of the deferred pension payable at age 65 may be claimed from age 60;
  • AFPS 75 Pension Credit Member (PCM)* – If this pension is the result of a Pension Sharing Order (PSO) and the PSO has taken effect then the PCM can opt to claim it from age 55
  • AFPS 05 - from age 55. Such a claim will not affect any EDP payments which are being paid.
  • AFPS 05 PCM* – If this pension is a result of a Pension Sharing Order (PSO) and the PSO has taken effect then the PCM can opt to claim it from age 55
  • Reserve Forces Pension Scheme (RFPS) from age 55
  • RFPS 05 PCM* - If this pension is a result of a Pension Sharing Order(PSO) and the PSO has taken effect then the PCM can opt to claim it from age 55

* Pension Credit Member (PCM) – This relates to an ex spouse of the member in whose favour a Pension Sharing Order has been made by a Court as part of a divorce settlement. A PCM becomes a member of their ex spouses pension scheme and they are a member of that pension scheme in their own right.

Reduced life expectancy

Deferred members of AFPS 05 and RFPS 05 and Pension Credit Members of these schemes, with a reduced life expectancy of 12 months or less may claim their deferred entitlement earlier. Applications of this nature should be made to Veterans UK.

What do I do next?

Veterans UK will not contact you to commence payment of a deferred Pension you must contact them. To find out if you are entitled to a deferred pension ring or write to the Veterans UK Enquiry Service on 0800 085 3600 or 94560 3600 or alternatively: E-mail: